Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Phil Kessel Is The New Ironman Of The NHL

10/25/2022 at 10:57pm EDT

via the NHL PR department,

Golden Knights forward Phil Kessel skated in his 990th consecutive regular-season game Tuesday and passed Keith Yandle (989 GP from March 26, 2009–March 29, 2022) for sole possession of the longest “Ironman” streak in NHL history.

* Yandle had held sole possession of the League’s lengthiest consecutive games played streak since Jan. 25, 2022, when he played in his 965th straight contest to surpass longtime NHL record holder Doug Jarvis (964 GP from Oct. 8, 1975–Oct. 10, 1987). Yandle extended his run to 989 contests before he was scratched by the Flyers for their game on April 2.

* Read more below on Kessel’s unlikely streak that was preceded by a cancer diagnosis at age 19 and has included two championships, various viral moments, a plethora of pranks with teammates as well as multiple interactions with prominent members of society ranging from professional wrestlers to U.S. presidents.

A look at some numbers behind Phil Kessel’s “Ironman” streak:

22,051 – Shifts logged by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990.

18,415 – Minutes of time on ice accumulated by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990.

15,044 – Number of NHL regular-season games played from Nov. 3, 2009, through Oct. 25, 2022.

15,000 – Likes on Ryan Reaves’ Twitter video where he donned a frightening clown mask and scared an unsuspecting Kessel just days before Halloween 2017. Reaves and Kessel skated 58 games together with the Penguins before the former joined the Golden Knights on Feb. 23, 2018.

12,813 – Days that Doug Jarvis held sole possession of the longest “Ironman” streak in NHL history (from Dec. 26, 1986, until Keith Yandle tied his run on Jan. 24, 2022). Yandle held the distinction for 272 days.

3,348 – Minutes of power-play time on ice accumulated by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990, third highest in the NHL over that span behind Alex Ovechkin (4108:25) and Keith Yandle (3,413:27).

1,071 – Consecutive games played by Kessel, including playoffs, during his streak including regular-season contest No. 990.

832 – Points accumulated by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990, which ranks among the top 10 in the NHL over that span. The list includes his former Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and is topped by Patrick Kane, who represented the United States alongside Kessel at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

499 – Assists accumulated by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990. He needs one to become the 13th NHL player with 500 or more in that span.

471 – Wins by Kessel’s teams during his streak entering game No. 990.

377 – Regular-season games that Kessel has skated alongside former roommateTyler Bozak. Bozak suited up in more games as Kessel’s teammate during his streak than any other player.

333 – Goals scored by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990, trailing only seven players for the most in the NHL over that span including fellow Wisconsin native Joe Pavelski (367).

298 – Power-play points recorded by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990, making up 35.8% of his 832 total points since Nov. 3, 2009.

290 – Games during Kessel’s streak where "The Phil Whisperer" Rick Tocchet was either his head coach (126 GP w/ ARI) or an assistant (164 GP w/ PIT). Tocchet was also Tampa Bay’s head coach in the Maple Leafs-Lightning game on Nov. 3, 2009.

145 – Consecutive games played by Kessel since March 12, 2020, when the NHL paused its season due to concerns about COVID-19.

103 – Power-play goals scored by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990. He is one of nine players with a triple-digit total since Nov. 3, 2009.

81 – Number worn by Kessel for the first 982 games of his streak. Kessel switched to No. 8, his number of choice in youth hockey, upon joining the Golden Knights (new teammate Jonathan Marchessault has worn No. 81 for Vegas since its inaugural season).

61 – Game-winning goals scored by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990, ranking tied for sixth in the NHL over that span behind Alex Ovechkin (86), Steven Stamkos (71), Brad Marchand (67), Max Pacioretty (65) and Evgeni Malkin (62).

48 – Regular-season games that Kessel has played against former Senators captain Erik Karlsson during his streak including game No. 990, his most versus one player. Karlsson is in the Sharks’ lineup Tuesday.

47 – Regular-season games that Kessel has played against the Senators during his streak, his most versus one club. Game No. 990 is his 30th against San Jose since Nov. 3, 2009.

44 – Games that Kessel skated alongside Jason Blake, who won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2007-08. Kessel and Blake’s 44 games dressed together are the sixth most by a pair of teammates after each had won a Masterton Trophy, behind Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne (289 w/ ANA), Blake and Koivu (140 w/ ANA), Blake and Selanne (135 w/ ANA), Robin Lehner and Max Pacioretty (66 w/ VGK) as well as Jamie McLennan and Gary Roberts (58 w/ FLA).

44 – Regular-season games that Kessel has played against Claude Julien during his streak, his most versus one head coach.

30 – Seconds of ice time logged by Kessel on March 8, 2022, to keep his streak intact before leaving the contest for the birth of his child.

30 – Games that Kessel has played against fellow Madison, Wis. native Ryan Suter during his streak. Kessel has credited Suter’s father, Bob, for his development as a player (the elder Suter was a “Miracle on Ice” veteran & coached Kessel with the Madison Capitols minor hockey program).

22 – Age (in years) of Kessel when his streak began Nov. 3, 2009. He was the youngest forward in the Maple Leafs’ lineup that night against the Lightning.

20 – Length (in parsecs) of the Kessel Run, a route in the Star Wars universe used by smugglers to move glitterstim spice from mines on the planet Kessel without getting caught by the Imperial ships. Some have dubbed the streak as “The Kessel Run” in honor of the passage, which was first mentioned by Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977).

11 – Goals that Kessel scored on goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist (11-16—27 in 22 GP) and Ondrej Pavelec (11-7—18 in 16 GP) during his streak, his most versus any netminder.

11 – Minutes required by speed painter Cody Sabol to create the "Pittsburgh Mona Lisa", a portrait of Kessel which was based on his famous headshots taken ahead of Sochi 2014. Kessel posed with the picture during his day with the Stanley Cup in 2017.

10 – Games required for Kessel to become the first player in NHL history to skate in 1,000 consecutive regular-season contests. The game is set to take place on Nov. 17 when Vegas hosts Arizona, Kessel’s former team.

10 – Length (in games) of Kessel’s longest point streak during his run, achieved with the Maple Leafs from March 19 to April 9, 2011 (4-7—11).

9 – Percentage of current NHL players who were in the League when Kessel’s streak began.

8 – Games that Kessel played against his cousin, David Moss, during his streak. Kessel had 4-3—7 in those contests (Moss: 0-1—1), but Moss’ teams went 5-2-1 (Kessel: 3-4-1).

7 – Championships won by Amanda Kessel, Phil’s sister, since Nov. 3, 2009 (NCAA: 2012, 2013 & 2016; World Championship: 2013, 2017 & 2019; Winter Olympics: 2018).

7 – Games that Kessel has played under current Vegas assistant coach and former Tampa Bay forward Ryan Craig entering contest No. 990. Craig did not play in the Maple Leafs-Lightning game on Nov. 3, 2009, but was recalled by the club two days later.

5 – Hat tricks scored by Kessel during his streak entering game No. 990, including two against the Senators while playing for the Maple Leafs (Oct. 8, 2011 & Feb. 1, 2014). He is one of three players with two “Battle of Ontario” hat tricks (since 1992-93 when the current Senators joined the NHL) – the others are Auston Matthews and Dany Heatley.

5 – Points recorded by Kessel against the Red Wings on March 26, 2016 (1-4—5), marking his single-game career high.

5 – Number of players who dressed in the Maple Leafs-Lightning game on Nov. 3, 2009, that remain under contact with an NHL team: Victor Hedman (TBL), Luke Schenn (VAN), Mike Smith (EDM), Steven Stamkos (TBL) and Kessel.

3 – Consecutive seasons where an NHL games played record has been broken. The 2020-21 campaign saw Patrick Marleau surpass Gordie Howe as the League’s all-time games played leader, while 2021-22 featured Zdeno Chara eclipsing Chris Chelios for sole possession of the most by a defenseman as well as Keith Yandle overtaking Doug Jarvis as the NHL’s new “Ironman”.

3 – Number of hot dogs visible in Kessel’s Stanley Cup photo during his day with the trophy in 2017.

1 – Number of babies, at a minimum, named “Kessel” in honor of the nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.THE ROAD TO 990 CONSECUTIVE GAMES: KESSEL’S JOURNEY TO PASSING YANDLE
Phil Kessel’s consecutive games played streak has spanned nearly 13 years (4,739 days), four franchises and parts of 14 seasons, a stretch which began after he skated each of his first three campaigns in the League with Boston and achieved an NHL-first during his rookie year:

* Kessel was selected by the Bruins with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft after representing the United States in several successful entries at international tournaments and receiving WCHA Rookie of the Year honors during his lone season as a member of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-33—51 in 39 GP). He appeared in each of Boston’s first 27 games during the 2006-07 campaign, but was sidelined after being diagnosed with a form of testicular cancer at just 19 years of age.

* Kessel underwent surgery and was declared cancer-free before returning to the Bruins’ lineup on Jan. 9, 2007, after missing just 12 games. He was voted winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, presented annually “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

* Kessel was traded to Toronto on Sept. 18, 2009. After recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, he made his Maple Leafs debut against the Lightning on Nov. 3, 2009, marking the start of his “Ironman” streak. One of Kessel’s new teammates was fellow cancer survivor and Masterton Trophy winner Jason Blake.

* Kessel played a total of six seasons with Toronto, comprising the first 446 contests of his consecutive games played streak. He scored at least 20 goals in each campaign with the Maple Leafs (including a career-high 37 in 2011-12 & 2013-14) and helped the club clinch a berth in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking their first postseason appearance since 2004.

* Kessel represented the United States at two Winter Olympics during his tenure with the Maple Leafs. The Americans earned a silver medal after Sidney Crosby scored the “Golden Goal” in overtime for the hosts at Vancouver 2010 and fell to Canada again during the Semifinals at Sochi 2014, with Kessel receiving Best Forward honors after sharing the tournament lead in points. Kessel would join Crosby in Pittsburgh when he was traded by the Maple Leafs to the Penguins on July 1, 2015.

* Kessel appeared in all 82 games during the 2015-16 season and concluded his first campaign in Pittsburgh by helping the club win its fourth championship in franchise history, leading the Penguins with 10 goals and 22 points during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as part of the “HBK Line” alongside Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino. The postseason performance solidified Kessel’s status as a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, with “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaelsshowing support for his namesake line and “Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion” becoming a popular phrase during the ensuing months.

* Kessel followed up his debut season with the Penguins by logging another 82-game campaign in 2016-17 and helping Pittsburgh become the NHL’s first repeat Stanley Cup champions since Detroit from 1997 to 1998. He had 8-15—23 in 25 games during the 2017 postseason – the only U.S.-born players in League history with more points in a single playoff year are Brian Leetch (w/ 1994 NYR), Kevin Stevens (w/ 1991 PIT & 1992 PIT), Patrick Kane (w/ 2010 CHI) and Joe Mullen (w/ 1989 CGY).

* Kessel skated the 2017-18 and 2018-19 season with the Penguins before being traded to the Coyotes on June 29, 2019, with his “Ironman” streak at 774 contests. Kessel played in all 208 games contested by Arizona from 2019-20 to 2021-22, including logging one shift on March 8, 2022, to keep his run intact before leaving the contest for the birth of his child. Kessel also helped the Coyotes defeat the Predators during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Arizona’s first postseason appearance since 2012.

* Kessel was signed by Vegas on Aug. 24, 2022, and is one goal shy of reaching 400 in his NHL career. Entering his 990th consecutive game, Kessel also needs 42 points to become the 10th U.S.-born player in League history to hit 1,000.

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